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As TV gets a resurrection online, simplicity of its model keeps it going

Sun TV (Tamil) is almost permanently entrenched as India’s No. 1 general ent­er­tainment channel (GEC). Dangal, one of the biggest successes in the Hin­di-speaking markets, makes it to the Top 10. The viewership of the Indian Pre­mier League (IPL) is dropping year-on-year (YoY). The viewership of gene­ral entertainment, news, and kids program­ming went up. More than half of what India watches continues to be on GECs.

There are now five non-Hindi GECs in the Top 10. Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada remain the blockbuster languages of television (TV), showing growth YoY.

That and more is what the most recent analysis of what India is watching on TV shows. Since the Broadcast Audience Research Council India stopped sharing data with the media, the 2021 numbers come from Lodestar Universal. The picture they paint underlines the transformation that TV is undergoing: the migration of upper-end homes to pay over-the-top (OTT) and lower-end ones to free-to-air TV and free OTT (as enunciated in Part I of this series). In the middle, people remain committed to TV. It explains why, with 878 million viewers, TV remains by far the largest video medium in India.

“What will keep TV going is the absolute simplicity – it gives you what you want at a good price,” says Ashish Pherwani, partner and leader for the media and entertainment practice at EY — the audit and consulting firm.

As choices across the video spectrum multiply from 10-second videos to 10 hours of binging – they increasingly come to TV for the programming that only TV can offer. This could be anything from Kumkum Bhagya and Anupama to Kapil Sharma and live sports.

“TV is not going anywhere. News and sports have kept the interest in TV alive. Although IPL is slipping, there are some shifts in second-line sports,” says Shrikant Shenoy, associate vice-president, Lodestar Universal.

The drop in IPL viewership and the fall in time spent should worry Disney-Star, which paid more than Rs 23,000 crore just for the TV rights for the next IPL. Business Standard

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